Press release 18 September 2018

Future for two ITPs lies in commissioner connecting to staff andcommunitiesStaff at Whitireia and Weltec polytechnics are resigned to the fact thatthe Minister of Education will be appointing a commissioner to replace thecouncil overseeing both institutions but they are shocked by the poorfinancial positions of the institutions.In announcing his decision to appoint a commissioner Minister Chris Hipkins noted: "Whitireia is inextreme financial difficulty. If the Government hadn’t provided financialsupport of $15 million, it would have to close its doors this month. WhileWelTec’s financial position is stronger than Whitireia’s, it is alsooperating in deficit, experiencing lower than expected enrolments and needsto borrow to meet its financial commitments to keep running this year.”TEU national president, Sandra Grey, said staff at both Whitireia andWeltec feel that they have been put through years of course and staff cuts,changes to roles, and constantly changing expectations.“Despite the relentless change there are still major financial problems.Staff feel there is no vision for where the two polytechs are heading. Theonly way to turn this situation around is to fully involve staff, students,and communities in the decision-making process.”“We have had a productive conversation with the Chief Executive aboutensuring that staff are involved in setting a vision for the institutions.We are now preparing thoughts to share with the commissioner.”The concerns of staff centre on the rising numbers of managers at the twopolytechnics, the feeling of a lack of academic input into many decisions,the reduction of student support roles, and the lack of connection Betweenthe Polytechs and their communities.“We urge the CE, commissioner, and other leaders to take seriously staffexpertise when looking to turn around the difficulties faced by the twoinstitutions.”As one TEU member put it, the commissioner, senior leaders, and governmentneed to “promote a climate which is teacher-centred not "business"centred.”Our Polytechs are based on good teaching for students in diversecommunities. Neither teachers, students nor communities are at the centreof decisions. TEU members urge a commissioner to bring this focus back.Many of the issues faced by Whitireia and Weltec have their genesis indecisions of the last National government to squeeze the funding of thetertiary education sector and drive for institutions to be ‘business-like’,said Grey.“Polytechs are core public institutions in many New Zealandcommunities, not businesses. We are pleased the Minister has againreiterated his commitment thattop quality vocational training continues to be available at Whitireiaand WelTec and demonstrated this commitment by providing a $15 millionbailout to Whitireia.But we need Chris Hipkins to continue to take actions which ensure thatour polytechnics are funded in a way which ensures they can be theheart of their communities and the heart of a vocational educationtraining system.”For TEU members this includes putting two staff and two students onto thecouncils of polytechs and universities. The Minister was right when he said“this Government is having to bail out to the tune of tens of millions ofdollars because of poor governance decisions by some of those very sameinstitutions. Would those decisions have been made had the staff andstudents who actually have a direct interest in those institutions beeninvolved in the decision-making and if they had had a voice at the table—Idon't think they necessarily would have.”